About broken colectivos, dead crabs, mermaids, and how we didn’t see It coming…
On April 15th 1961 Americans started to put into life their masterplan: invade Cuba and overthrow Fidel Castro. It was a total fiasco from start to finish: planes missed their targets, Castro found out about the invasion in advance and “cleaned” the area, supply ships sunk and locals were supporting Revolution instead of – what Americans thought – rather waiting for America to save them from “evil” Castro. That is more or less a story of how a huge military and economic force was defeated by a small nation that was doing basically nothing 😀 It is like a modern day story of David and Goliath and, of course, we had to see this legendary place of Bay of Pigs during our trip through Cuba. What we didn’t know was that the Bay of Pigs will play us exactly like it did Americans half a century ago. But let us start from the beginning…
On the road
It is raining for the whole night. The rain is pounding in Havana. In the morning we pack and we are ready to go. We go down to our taxi that is supposed to take us to Playa Larga. What we see leaves us speechless (remember, we are only a few days in Cuba, so basically freshmen): it is a 70 years old colectivo, with which we and our 1,5 years old daughter are about to drive almost 200 km! Our taxi driver, a typically looking Jorge or Juan, huge as a hippo, shows us a woman in the car and says in a deep voice: “mi senora.”
So the taxi driver Jorge, “mi senora,” and we are squeezing into the car. The trunk in the back is closed only after fixing it with a screwdriver. (On the first potholes Dario is checking if something is falling down from the trunk.) We are getting into the car, fastening our seatbelts… Wait a second. What seatbelts? There are no seatbelts! All three of us are sitting at the back. Zosia’s baby seat we try to fix between us, we put backpacks under it, and secure it with our jackets and anything we find to make it more stable. The only thing missing is… a loud Cuban reggaeton and we are ready to go. We are driving or rather shaking with a speed more than 100 km/h.
And now a puzzle:
– How do we know how fast are we driving in Cuba when the speedometer is not working?
– Our taxi driver is slowing down on the highway with a 100km/h speed limit, when he sees the police.
Zosia is looking around, and happily moving to the rhythm of reggeaton. And then she falls asleep and sleeps the whole way! Zosia, SLEEPS THE WHOLE WAY!!!! (Our daughter from the beginning hates sleeping. She never sleeps through the night, she never falls asleep in a car seat, plane, or baby stroller. She despises sleeping and strongly believes we should do the same. So you may right now understand how stunned and ecstatic I was, when she slept for all 200 km). Dario covers himself with a plastic bag and my scarf, as the door from his side has a hole and the wind comes from everywhere, and he falls asleep as well. I, on the other hand, first watch the Cuban landscape with plantations of banana palms and sugarcane, and then focus on the car itself. The color: in some places one can still see the original color – grey, but mainly it is rather brown, not from the paint but rust. The rest has a color of dirt. The colors of rust and dirt are really rare and in a weird way somehow add even more charm for the car. The wing mirror is broken. And that’s how we are driving.
We arrive in Playa Larga in the afternoon. It is a small village, where fishermen’s houses were renovated and now are rented as casas particulares. There are no big resorts here, just peace, a few cozy bars at the beach and the beauty of Bay of Pigs. It is a perfect spot if you are into diving, bird watching, nature or simply peaceful beach time. Playa Larga is simply gorgeous, there is no doubt about it.
The first night we spent in Casa Mesa, and the next two in Casa Kiki. During our stay we noticed that many tourists are coming to Playa Larga and only then asking if casas have any vacancies. Although it may work in other places in Cuba, Playa Larga is not the spot to count on good luck with accommodation. This place is not a mystery; more and more people are coming to enjoy its beauty still unspoiled by huge resorts and touristic business. Although you find quite a few casas here, there are not many that are located directly at the sea. We booked casa Kiki a few months before our trip. A few days after the reservation, we wanted to book one additional night. However, everything was booked already in Casa Kiki, so we stayed one night in the neighboring Casa Mesa, which belongs to Kiki’s sister. Although Kiki is a very nice guy and his casa is super popular, we still personally preferred Casa Mesa. (To find out more about our accommodation and casas particulares in Playa Larga go to: …. coming soon)
From our room to the beach we have, wait for it… from our room we immediately enter the beach.
Zosia runs straightaway to the beach and the sea. From now on her radar is like from a small sea turtles: no matter where you put her, she will find her way to the water 😀 Moreover, she screams whenever we are taking her out from the sea. Later on she finds a dead crab and brings proudly her trophy for her dad. She has so much fun here: putting sand in her hair, sitting in shallow water that goes deep into the sea and almost letting waves to get her under the water. If we didn’t hold her, she would be already far away playing with her friends mermaids 🙂
For dinner we take lobster for 12 CUC per person, a ridiculous price in comparison to the one we would have to pay in Europe. In the evening we walk along the beach and see crabs getting out of the sea. Later we lie down under the palms and look at the beautiful Cuban sky. We don’t want to fall asleep, it is simply too beautiful here. Can it be more perfect????
No. It can be just worse and we really should have thought about going early to bed that day… To be continued…
More about Cuba:
How to Prepare Your Trip to Cuba
MerkenFeel free to share:
Arturo(20th May 2016 - 8:52 pm)
Hey guys, great stuff. Now I want to go to Cuba and particularly to Playa Larga at Bay of Pigs.
You guys inspired me to tell my stories of travel. Me my wife and sons (Dario will know them) also love to travel, we don’t do it as often as we would like but I will definetly take your word on sending you our travel stories.
I will be waiting for the continuation of this particular tale on Playa Larga.
lovetravellingfamily(24th May 2016 - 10:09 am)
Hey Arturo, this is so great! We can’t wait to hear about your adventures! The next part about Playa Larga is comming this week. Lots of greetings to you and all the beautiful family 🙂 (Dario’s shown me the pictures of the kids, they are adorable!!!)
Yannon(27th May 2019 - 2:02 pm)
if you stay in Playa Larga (witch is realy beautifull) i advise you to take a trip to Sendero Enigma de Rocas. A absolute great scenery and only a 40 minutes drive. You find many species of bird, turtles, crocodile. baths. Clear water for a swim. Its realy quiet (accept for the birds). ask for a tourgide